Okay, all, time to ask one very out in left field question: how many of you have publicly shown how the sausage is made? The past couple of weeks, I've actually done some art broadcasts on Twitch about fontmaking and worked on a couple of them (made a dingbat font and updated one of my older ones) while people asked questions. While I didn't exactly get stellar numbers in views, I've had a couple of graphic designers ask me about how to get into fontmaking and I've noted that my sales have actually gone up since I started this.
I know that many people think fontmaking is an arcane, taboo secret akin to black magic or something (y'know, like all software development), but I wonder if this is the start of something that might just get more attention. I could talk about all the pitfalls that comes with font development (like constantly slapping free sites with DMCAs) and things like that. Or I could ask what people want and what they're looking for in fonts (on a site that is graphic heavy, a lot of people pay attention to fonts, whether consciously or not). And it made me curious to wonder just how many others out there have had these thoughts or even did it.
Democratization always means "rule of fools", it may be different in the US but this is certainly true over here. What do fools want? Egalitarianism, i.e. the forever crab bucket mentallity. One offshoot of that is crappy products.
I don't think people are interested in how typefaces made. I don't mean they're not interested in type design at all, but their interest ends at "where do you get your ideas from?" and "what's the hardest letter?" A couple of years ago I contributed to a magazine article with a detailed step-by-step explanation of the making of a typeface with an accompanying YouTube video. After a year it got about a dozen views so I took it down. In this business you learn pretty quickly that nobody wants anything more than the elevator pitch. Personally, I think it would be very interesting and I'd certainly watch it. What type designer doesn't want to see what other designers are doing incorrectly?
Sometimes, tho, a gem may fall out. Once a plumber told me that "there are no two completely identical toilets" (or was it houses?) Fully applicable to photo editing and retouch.
Some evidence of this demand: OHNO has been doing a widely popular educational series on their instagram, and this account posting blerps of (sometimes questionable but nicely branded) info gained 50K followers in a few months time.
In my experience, more than other profession type designers seem to be highly protective of what they know. It does come across as insecurity. It reflects badly on the community as a whole.
Complaining about the poor quality of typefaces in the marketplace while actively trying to prevent wannabe type designers from improving seems like a contradiction.
I'm a formally-trained graphic designer who sees no shortage of hacks selling poor quality work. There will always be a market for good quality graphic design though, and I'm sure it's the same in type design.
If you're obsessive about producing high quality work, don't be sour at sites like dafont.com. The people downloading fonts there are not your market.
Rob, I for one would love to see well presented educational material on type design.
I think what’s had the most impact in the last 10 years is distribution. With the explosion of distribution channels for open source fonts, novice designers can easily put their work out there. It can be frustrating for people that take care with type design to run up against the “I made a font!” people, especially when one has to explain the quality differences to a client. But, again, that’s also the place where a lot of potentially talented designers can start.
I suppose there was a similar concern in the early ’90s; it’s just that back then, it was a lot harder for a novice to put their font out in the world.
I’ve always been concerned about tools that let one either (a) open an existing font and easily modify it, or (b) create a personalized font out of some primitive source data. (For the latter, I mean software that gives a user an elemental font and sliders to adjust parameters.) Neither of these is intrinsically bad, it’s just that it increases the number of people distributing typefaces that are of dubious originality. Font IP has never been widely appreciated, so giving type design to “the masses” increases the likelihood of unintentional infringement, or perhaps just a lack of appreciation for a thoughtful, original approach to typeface design.
Anyhow, these things cause me some concern, but I do think that quality does win out in the end. (There’s plenty of evidence for that.) That’s the optimistic approach, and probably the most sensible.